It is time
It is time for a short and long term plan for our schools in District 181. Our school board is requesting $59.9 million to do a quick fix on the space problems facing many of the District 181 schools. It is time for the school board to present the whole plan on how to correct all the space and facilities problems facing our schools. These problems did not occur overnight, and the fix will take years as well. The current plan is only addressing the overcrowding on a very limited basis. I can't believe the four classrooms becoming available in the Baxter grade school will provide any lasting relief for this growing area. How long before we are right back to the same situation? The school board says 10 years. I don't believe that. We need more grade school space in both Brainerd and Baxter. Let's keep our fifth graders where they belong, instead of housed with the 14 year olds.
This bond will do nothing to address the reported air quality, plumbing or electrical problems in the other schools. Many of the schools are at capacity due to the addition of all day every day kindergartens and newer requirements for special education programs.
Why is the board so afraid to discuss the phase II plans? The copy of the long range plan I was given by the district office calls for the closing of Lowell, Whittier, Lincoln and Harrison and with Washington and Franklin gone what will happen? Could it be we are in for a mega-grade school as well? The smaller neighborhood schools are best for our children, families and teachers.
I telephoned the Minnesota Department of Finance and spoke to Bill Kiesow (651-582-8801) and was told the $52 on $100,000 home is not correct. He indicated the accurate figure is $115. To arrive at the $52 a 9 percent housing growth factor must be obtained as per the Auditor's Office here in Crow Wing County.
Ruth Gmeinder's column (Feb. 17) stated this bond would not close any neighborhood schools. I do hope the readers also noticed the lack of plan to keep our neighborhood schools open and the neighborhoods viable. So what is the plan? Is this another part of the misinformation strategy being implemented by the board on the advice of the hired consultant? We are paying $95 per hour and $5 an hour in travel time with school tax dollars for this service (thus the March 12 ballot) and the marketing advice of Russell and Herder which is filtering information and wording the questionnaires to the district employees and task force. Could this be to manipulate the response in a predestined direction? Why does our board feel the need to do a sales job on the staff and public?
This school is two miles from the Pillager District line. District 181 owns 83 parcels of property (per the Auditor's Office). Fifty of these parcels are in Brainerd (per the City Engineer's Office). How many of these are surrounding the schools being reported as not having space to expand? I requested a property list from the District Office on Feb. 5. The information has not been provided. Could it be the district doesn't want us to know?
Please go to the District Office and request a copy of the Special School Board and Long Range Planning Interim Committee Meeting of Dec. 12 and 13, 2001 and the whole plan submitted to the State Department of Children, Families and Learning. Be an informed voter. We can grow and retain a high quality of life if we plan carefully. Please vote "no" on March 12.
(Harrison is a Brainerd resident.)
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